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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Trade union calls on FIFA to rerun 2022 World Cup bid over Qatar’s labor rights violations

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Fed up with what it calls “broken promises and no signs of any change” in Qatar’s treatment of low-income expats, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called on FIFA to rerun the 2022 World Cup vote.

In a statement released on Wednesday, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said:

“This is not a move we take lightly. The 2022 World Cup was awarded years ahead of schedule, if a new venue is selected in the next two years there is still time for the infrastructure to be in place in time for the games. FIFA must act now- the longer the delay, the more workers will suffer and die.

Despite international attention, injuries from falls at construction sites in Qatar jumped some 67 percent in the past five years.

According to the director of the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Hamad Medical Corp., the hospital treated more than 1,000 people injured after falling from heights last year. He told news media that the number would go down only if companies do more to ensure the safety of the their workers.

Workers’ charter

Mindful of the mounting international pressure, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee said in February that it was in the “final stages” of drafting a workers’ charter for all World Cup-related projects. At the time, officials were responding to a renewed push by Human Rights Watch that Qatar take concrete steps to improve the plight of low-income workers.

But the ITUC has said it obtained a leaked copy of the charter and found that it contradicted Qatari law and “fails to give workers any real rights or protection from slavery conditions.”

Neither FIFA nor the Supreme Committee have commented on the campaign yet.

UPDATE | Friday, April 17:

In a statement sent to Doha News, FIFA said:

A FIFA World Cup in the Middle East offers a great opportunity for the region to discover football’s power as a platform for positive social change. FIFA upholds the respect for human rights and the application of international norms of behaviour as a principle and part of all our activities.

The world’s governing body added that it has met with Qatari authorities and several international human rights groups, including HRW and ITUC, about ways to address human rights violations here. It continues:

FIFA is interested to see positive developments in those discussions and will lend its support to all parties in order to find sustainable solutions to any labour issues in the countries hosting the FIFA World Cup. FIFA will continue as part of our social responsibility strategy to address opportunities to increase the positive and reduce the negative impacts of the FIFA World Cup towards 2022

Notably, World Cup revotes are extremely uncommon, though the world’s governing football body has said a re-election is possible for both Russia’s 2018 and Qatar’s 2022 bids if bribery allegations turn out to be true. 

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by sophmattgunner

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